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The Outdoor Channel features a show titled, Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming. It makes stops across the country to feature different places to fly fish. Last week, the show stopped at Cabins, West Virginia in Grant County to hold an event to push for kids to go outside and fly fish. Among the participants, were two students from the Chestnut Mountain Ranch School in Morgantown. It’s a Christian school that serves troubled boys. One of the students talked about the qualities of fly fishing that might help him and others like him in his therapy.
On a warm fall day, this group of about a dozen middle school aged kids eagerly watch for fish in the local stream in Cabins, West Virginia just outside of Petersburg. They’re here to learn about fly fishing from West Virginia native, Curtis Fleming and his crew of pro-fly fishers.
Among the dozen children, two of them are from the Chestnut Mountain Ranch School in Morgantown that serves troubled boys. It’s a Christian-centered school that aims to help boys who are in crisis at home or within themselves.
Kyler Grimes is a 6th grader at Chestnut Mountain Ranch, and he says fly fishing helps him calm down and take his mind off things.
“Just calming, the relaxation, and when you’re casting…it’s just like the history between fly fishing and the history of fish. It just goes through your mind how long they’ve been here and has been here,” Grimes said.
Bradley Clodfelter is a teacher at Chestnut Mountain Ranch who started a Fly Fishing 101 class after watching Fly Rod Chronicles on television. Grimes is a student in his class.
“Basically what we do in that class is we teach them the basic biology of a nymph, and the lifecycle of nymphs,” explained Clodfelter, “They’re actually required to do a presentation at the end of the class, and it’s a PowerPoint presentation. They learn how to cast. We try to get them out on a stream and teach them how to catch a fish.”
Clodfelter says his class also teaches life-lessons.
“We’re able to work through just…frustration, anger issues…patience. We’re learning about that out here,” said Clodfelter, “It is difficult sometimes to catch fish, and you get your fly tangled up in a tree, and you just have to learn patience there. Also, you learn how to take care of the environment, what we’ve been given, and a lot of times, you know, they like to destroy it, so we want to teach them how to take care of it.”
Curtis Fleming, the host of Fly Rod Chronicles, often works with Project Healing Water, a wounded veteran program that aids vets through fly fishing. He compares the work he does with veterans to the work that Chestnut Mountain Ranch does with troubled boys.
“Just like what we do with wounded vets that come back, it helps them let go of the pain. Okay? And kids today that comes through that’s been troubled or having problems, when you get them outdoors and you get them fly fishing, they forget all about their problems,” Fleming said, “I always tell people that you cannot worry and fly fish. You just can’t do both at the same time.”
Fleming hopes as the day comes to a close that the kids who participated in his event will leave with a new love for fly fishing. He also hopes it will help motivate them to go outside and stay active.